These Bulbous Toes Have Got to Go
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By guest blogger Mildlymiffed

I have this super awesome new gay job that unfortunately/fortunately requires me to wear business casual. I am lacking in the business casual department. I also fall somewhere in the middle on the butch/femme continuum, and try really hard not to be boxed into one or the other, but most of my more formal wear tends to be in the feminine side, so I was all, WOO I SHOULD BUY MEN’S SHOES! And then I was all geez. I don’t know how to do that. So I started with two places: this site (hello Sonia!) and Put This On. LADIES, HOMOS AND QUEERS. If you are not aware of Put This On you need to rectify that immediately. It is a blog/webseries for men who want to dress like grownups. Just imagine that all the dapper gentlemen are impeccably dressed adorable butches and see if you don’t get a boner immediately.

So. Sonny recommended women’s oxfords from Bass. I checked them out and then I got all drooly over these:

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But I wanted to know how these shoes held up to rules of buying shoes from Put This On.

Question number one: what kind of soles do the shoes have? Ideally, I’d like leather soles that are sewn on so they can be removed and resoled. These shoes have rubber soles, and they are probably fused on rather than sewn. Rubber automatically makes them more casual than a good men’s dress shoe. Fusing makes them cheaper and poorer quality and harder to resuscitate if they wear out.

Question number two: what kind of leather was the shoe made of? Really nice shoes are made from full grain, which is unpolished leather. This is the most durable. What’s more likely, however, is that these shoes are made of corrected grain, also called polished grain. If the manufacturer doesn’t say that it is full grain, it probably isn’t. Corrected grain is when they shave part of the leather off to cover imperfections in the leather and create a chemical patina over it—it looks gross and cheap. Read about that here. You should probably also watch this, about how to buy and care for nice men’s shoes.

But I was somehow still really psyched about these shoes so I showed them to my girlfriend all giddy like “damn I want these shoes,” and she’s all, “Those are definitely lady shoes.” *Dramatic confused pause.* “Look at the abbreviated pattern on the wingtip.” She explained that the arch from the heel to the toe is higher and more ‘ladylike,’ and if you take a look at a men’s wingtip and you’ll see that it’s just a straight line. (Everything is curvier on women, including our feet, apparently.) The kicker (heh) however, that tipped her off immediately was that “round, bulbous-ass toe.” Any time someone wants to make ‘menswear for ladies’ they soften the lines. Soft lines suck, and they don’t make clothes look more ladylike, they make them look stupid and flimsy. For a good shoe you want clean, sturdy, straight, stiff lines. In conclusion, “Bulbous toe has got to go.” 

WELL. I was crestfallen. I have so much more to learn. However, lady says that Bass is a decent brand for loafers. Something to keep in mind.

I putz around on the internet and I suddenly realize that I want THESE. This is what the Bass oxfords want to be when they grow up. Ready everyone? One, two, three, faint into a puddle of your own drool:

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Now go back and look at the shoes from before. Now back to these. (Now back to your man. Now back to me.) DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE?! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY I AM WANTING THESE SO HARD?! But they are well over $400. Not in my budget.

So I am torn. I want to buy nice shoes like a grownup, but I have a social worker’s budget. It is time to hit the thrift stores. On semi-impulse, I perused Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, and Found, all in Davis Square in Somerville, MA. Overall, all of the stores had a pretty disappointing selection. I’m a size 9 women’s or a size 7 men’s, not tiny, but small enough that I had a lot of trouble finding shoes in my size. (Heh—I just found out that Sonia and I are the same size—does this mean that we can share shoes?!) The three stores turned up…a lot of ugly shoes. Just—yuck. Really thick soles, nasty leather, etc. The shoes were also mostly pretty worn out. I guess the shoes that were nicest were at Found, this upscale consignment shop in Davis that just opened up recently, but their selection of men’s shoes was very small (however, the women’s shoe selection was huge and awesome). I did see a lot of very nice loafers from Bass at Goodwill, actually, proving my Main Squeeze entirely right. They were just two sizes too big.

What we learned today: the difference between whole and corrected grain. Make sure the sole of your shoe is sewn on. Grownup shoes are expensive. Thrift stores aren’t necessarily awesome for finding small men’s shoes. Bass makes nice loafers. I still do not have shoes.

Next time—I hit the big menswear thrift stores—Bobby from Boston and Keezers!